While most of the events of the American Guild of Organists regional convention require registration to attend, the organizers have included a number of free concerts for the public to enjoy as well.

Convention coordinator Phil Dodson said the concerts are possible because the convention, which officially begins Monday and ends Thursday, attracted more than the necessary number of attendees from around the American Guild of Organists region, which includes the southwestern United States, Hawaii, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Sydney, Australia. Also, local fundraising for the convention and donated resources from participating churches in Bakersfield have underwritten most of the event.


Performing for the public Sunday evening is internationally acclaimed organist Hector Olivera, who has appeared in Bakersfield before. Olivera, born in Buenos Aires, was a child prodigy, entering the Buenos Aires conservatory at age 6. At age 12, he was the youngest person ever admitted to the University of Buenos Aires. After serving as head of the organ program since age 18, and already enjoying an extensive performing career, Olivera moved to the United States to continue his studies and begin an international performing career. He returned to Buenos Aires decades later as a national hero, and for decades he has been considered one of the great instrumentalists in the world. Olivera will perform at 7 p.m. this evening at First Presbyterian Church, 1705 17th St.


First Presbyterian Church will also be the site for two concerts on Monday. At 4 p.m., Corey Coker-Robertson will give a recital, and Christoph Bull will perform at 7:30 p.m.

Coker-Robertson is professor of organ at Claremont Graduate University and also principal organist at Claremont United Church of Christ Congregational. She received her doctor of musical arts degree at USC.

Christoph Bull is one of the rising stars of the organ world. Like Olivera, Bull was a prodigy. Now professor of organ at UCLA, Bull is acclaimed internationally, not only for performances in traditional repertoire, but also in a new cross-over genre known as "organica," of which Bull is one of the pioneers.


St. Paul's Anglican Church will host a concert by the winner of the Regional Young Organists Competition at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The competition was held over the weekend as part of the pre-convention activities.

At 10:30 a.m., Robert Ampt and Amy Johansen will present a program for children about the organ and organ music. Ampt and Johansen, who are married, are from Sydney, Australia, and are recognized experts in children's programs and in repertoire for organ duet. The pair will present workshops on working with children during the convention for registered attendees.

St. John's Lutheran Church will host events in the afternoon and evening. There is a Hymn Festival at 2:30 p.m. featuring S. Wayne Foster at the organ, and the CSUB Singers, Westminster Choir and Masterworks Chorale, plus local brass ensemble Brass a la Carte to perform a new instrumental work and a new hymn commissioned for the convention. Foster, another internationally acclaimed performer, is organist-in-residence at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles and a recognized organ scholar with expertise in repertoire from the Renaissance to the Modern eras.

At 3:45, inspirational speaker and performer Ken Medema will present his program, "The Power of Music." Medema, who was born blind, learned to play the piano as a child and became an accomplished improviser. He worked as a music therapist, often writing songs to help individuals. Eventually, Medema made a career of writing and performing inspirational music. Tuesday's evening concert presents Hyunju Hwang at 8 p.m. Hwang is from Seoul, and earned her doctor of musical arts at USC. She is principal organist at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood.


T. Paul Rosas presents the first organ recital at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at First United Methodist Church on Stockdale Highway. Rosas is a soloist, accompanist and composer, and is the senior organist at Los Altos United Methodist Church. At 8 p.m., Ampt and Johansen will perform again, this time at Olive Drive Church, in a Gala Organ Recital with a program of organ duets.


A final recital, again at Olive Drive Church, is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m., featuring Dr. Dorothy Young Reiss. Reiss, began her performing career as a child and seemed bound for an important international career, but events in her family, including her father's death, inspired her to become a medical doctor instead. Since retiring from practice, Reiss has resumed her performing career to critical and popular acclaim.

Information about the artists and the concerts is available at the Guild of Organists convention website, www.bakersfieldago2013.org.

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